Popping into Pauly’s Hotel last Sunday night, I was stunned at the world-class level of jazz flowing off the stage.
In fact, when the collective geared up and launched into Miles Davis’ classic nugget, “So What,” under the leadership of Alex Torres’ long-time trumpeter Fred Young, I was floored by his original trumpet sound. He wasn’t tying to be Miles; he was interpreting the tune without music stands filled with piles of notes; it was all created from memory.
Bassist Lou Smaldone and drummer Andy Hearn chugged along, effortlessly holding down the pulse of the familiar melody as tenor saxophonists Bill Leary and Dave Fisk took over the roles of Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane with solos that soared and nailed the composition’s essence.Young saxophonist Adam Siegel quickly assembled his sax off to the side of the stage to join in the fray and deliver a Hank Mobley-type solo full of warmth and simmering energy.
When the tune wound down with Young’s closing notes, I felt that I had witnessed something uniquely spontaneous and highly original, even though it was a well-known jazz tune. It was better than the last 20 times I heard that composition by far more popular national musicians. These six guys nailed it and could have played it anywhere in the country to waves of applause.
Earlier in the evening, vocalist Valerie Medeiros had added the icing on the jazz-jam cake with her singing. Although she is better known as a blues singer, it should be remembered that jazz came out of the blues, and if you can sing the blues, jazz is only an extension from one uniquely American art form into another.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
Be Here Now: Open Jazz Jam @ Pauly’s Hotel on Sundays